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The government and the Liberal Democratic Party are promoting a review of the decoration system for the first time in 36 years. At the end of last year, Shizuka Kamei, chairman of the LDP’s Policy Affairs Research Council, called for reforming the system for granting prestigious decorations to civil servants and other public figures. He said it unfairly favored retiring high government officials and politicians. Major points under review are whether to rectify this lopsidedness and abolish the ranking of recipients, according to sources in the LDP. The LDP’s project team on awarding honors intends to compile an interim report on the review, in cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Office, whose Decoration Bureau is in charge of selecting people to be decorated on the basis of given criteria and recommendations. Work to review the system gained momentum after Kamei told reporters in early December that he doubted the wisdom of ranking recipients and suggested that past decorations have been awarded arbitrarily. “Something is wrong with the current system, under which Hibari Misora and Yujiro Ishihara (widely regard ed as the most popular entertainers of postwar Japan and who both died over a decade ago) were unable to be decorated,” he said. Other entertainers have been decorated. The system to confer decorations began in 1875. The system now in use was based on decoration criteria adopted at a Cabinet meeting in 1964.The highest decoration is the Supreme Orders of the Chrysanthemum, of which there are two types: the Collar of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum and the Grand Cordon of the Chrysanthemum. Next come the Orders of the Rising Sun, the Orders of the Precious Crown and the Orders of the Sacred Treasure. Each of them has eight rankings. The decorations also include the Order of Culture. The government confers about 9,000 decorations every year — about a half of them in spring and the others in autumn — on the basis of recommendations submitted by government organizations and prefectural governments. Since the current system says that people qualified for a decoration are those who have contributed to the nation and the public, some 70 percent of all recipients are retired public servants, including politicians, according to the Decoration Bureau.

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